Hundreds of service members are suing the company 3M as part of a mass tort, alleging that 3M knowingly sold defective earplugs which caused hearing loss. This was reported by the law firm Searcy Denney, which is investigating cases by such service members.
3M already paid the U.S. government a $9.1 million settlement to resolve these accusations, according to The United States Department of Justice, although no liability was determined in this case. This means it was not determined whether 3M was actually at fault. The whistleblower also received $1,911,000.
According to Searcy Denney, this settlement resolves the government’s claims, but not any claims by private citizens who might have been hurt because of the allegedly defective earplugs. They are still free to file lawsuits against 3M, and seek compensation for potential hearing loss.
If you believe you were injured because of ear plugs, contact our injury lawyers today. You could be compensated for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
What is a Mass Tort?
The servicemen are suing as part of a mass tort, but what exactly is a mass tort? Andrus Wagstaff, PC, a firm which focuses on torts, explained it as, “a single wrongful action that causes injury to many different people.” These people join forces for a single lawsuit. Essentially a group of people who have all been allegedly wronged gather together to sue one or a few defendants.
This is similar to a class action, except that in a mass tort, all the plaintiffs are treated as individuals, whereas in a class action, they are all treated as one plaintiff.
The earplugs in question are 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms™ earplugs. If the allegations against them are true, then very many servicemen and women might have been injured by these earplugs. 3M sold millions of these plugs between 2003 and 2015.
Servicemen are exposed to loud noises in the military, but these earplugs were supposed to protect them. They have two sides that could be used in different circumstances, one to protect against all noises, the other to filter out loud noises while letting in quieter ones. According to accusations, these plugs were too short, causing them to sometimes come loose in people’s ears, reported Searcy Denney. As of February, servicemen had filed over 150 lawsuits, according to Searcy Denney.
In an email, a 3M employee said, "3M denies that Combat Arms Earplugs – Version 2 was defective and caused injuries. Safety is a key component of what 3M does for the United States military..."
CBS News interviewed two veterans who suffer from tinnitus causing loud ringing in their ears which they blame on 3M. One of them hears this ringing whenever there’s no other noise around. He describes it as “maddening” and “torture.” The veterans “filed civil complaints against 3M, claiming the company ‘did not adequately warn of the defects or adequately warn how to wear the earplugs.’”
If you currently own a pair of these earplugs, consider buying a different brand.
Don’t try to pursue a case without an experienced attorney at your side. We have offices in Tennessee and Kentucky, and we have decades of experience. Our consultation is always free, and you pay nothing until we win your case. If you believe you have suffered hearing loss due to defective earplugs, contact our injury attorneys now.